On Sat. 21 Aug., the Government of Tamil Nadu announced the reopening of schools across the state for Classes 9 – 12 with partial presence of students and on a rotation basis from 1 Sep. 2021. Alongside, the much awaited Cinema Theatres have also been allowed to reopen with restrictions of seating arrangement, much to the cheer of fans of film stars from Monday 23 Aug. ‘21 onwards. Bars inside hotels as well as those in resorts, especially in tourist locations, have been allowed to open with Covid-19 protocols in place from 23 August. Shops, Restaurants and other retail establishments shall remain open till 10pm from the same day onwards. At the moment, only in-house guests, that is those who have a valid room night booked can avail the bar services, which will now be opened for the general public.
All these announcements should bring cheer to retailers in the state, who have been mounting losses since mid-April onwards due to a prolonged second wave of the dreaded Coronavirus, due to which the entire state went on a full lockdown in the first week of May ‘21, followed by partial relaxations slowly. With the announcements today, an almost near normalcy is expected ahead of the upcoming festival season, starting with Pillaiyar Chathurthi, which falls on Friday 10 Sep. ‘21. Festival shopping begins from this period onwards, which culminates around Deepavali, which this year falls on 4 Nov. ‘21.
Schools opening is sweet news for a segment of retailers who have been focussed on educational needs, including stationery items, text and note books, lab requirements, formal school footwear and so on. On the other hand, Cinemas & Multiplexes opening up is a great news for the entire Entertainment ecosystem which is estimated to provide employment to over 1 million people, directly and indirectly which includes the production crew, post production and the exhibition business including theatre staff. Even the parking attendants of theatres have been without a job or income for the past 5 months. The opening up of the economy is expected to pump more money in to the system.
Opening of Multiplexes is expected to drive footfalls to Malls, which have dried off shoppers for a long time. The multiplexes, with new films lined up for release, will propel the mall ecosystem and would push visitors to the various retail stores, restaurants, cafes, QSRs as well as the Food Court. Movie watchers, especially the SEC A+ & A, who are also the higher spending cohorts at Mall retail stores would prefer watching a movie with friends and family at a Multiplex than a standalone theatre for want of better hygiene and safety standards. Even the most recent direct OTT releases may see a re-release at theatres including Suriya’s Soorarai Potru, Dhanush’s Jagame Thanthiram and Asuran, among many others.
Even as the country poses a formidable threat of a third wave, it can be well contained and managed by following protocols stipulated by the Government Authorities. Time will tell how disciplined we are.